SALEM, Ala. (WRBL)—A cool breeze and soft country music greeted visitors to The Farm at Rocky Top. Dozens of vendors dotted the lawn around the barn, selling everything from dried flower bouquets to antiques, fried pies, and tea. It was the first hour of Rocky Top’s first Hay Days arts and crafts festival and hundreds of guests were already milling around.

“Holy cow!” said one woman in amazement as she and her partner entered the farm.

“This has been two years in the making,” said owner Jan Lawrence, who added the farm has been in her family for 50 years.

According to Lawrence, the idea for Hay Days started in 2021, following the success of the farm’s annual Christmas market and pumpkin patch, added after their 2016 addition of a wedding venue.

Aiding in the planning process was Co-chair Carol Pridgen, who Lawrence said was key to the project’s success.

“I couldn’t do this by myself,” said Lawrence. She and Pridgen said their original vendor goal was 50 but they kept pushing up the number as more local businesses joined. On the weekend of the festival, Lawrence reported 90 vendors were in attendance. She anticipates more next year.

In addition to the numerous vendors, Lawrence also made sure the event had plenty to do for children and families. Across the venue were a bouncy house, petting zoo, train and what she called “photo-ops” – staged areas where guests could take photos to post on social media for the chance to win a $250 gift card.

For Angie Brown and Steve Sherrer of Flower Child Florals, the Hay Days festival marks their first time as vendors at an event. The florists, who carry unique dried- and fresh flower arrangements, seemed in good spirits as they worked from their camper van.

Brown said, “It seems really nice. Nice venue and everybody seems happy and it’s just a good turnout.”

Lawrence explained she and Pridgen had attended numerous other arts and crafts festivals and made use of online sources in order to design their event. She reported naming the festival was one of the trickiest parts.

“Usually, events like this are named after a time of year or something related to the geography of the land,” said Lawrence, “So I got to thinking, ‘Well, what is it about the Rocky Top in May?’ And I said, ‘Well, my husband cuts hay.’ And that’s that! So, let’s just call it ‘Hay Days’ because I’m a fun farmer, he’s a hay farmer.”

The event will continue until 5 p.m. today and resume tomorrow from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Entrance for any guest over three years old costs $8 per person, which goes toward covering festival expenses and upkeeping the farm. The fee also includes all non-vendor activities available at the Hay Days.